COVID hasn't stopped Jessica Donnelly from lending a helping hand to those in need.
When Jessica found herself stood down from her job in the first COVID wave, she tried to keep herself busy by gardening.
But by her own admission, there was only so much gardening she could do.
Instead, Jessica turned to the Cancer Council's volunteer-based program Transport to Treatment when her mum saw a Facebook post asking for volunteers under the age of 60.
Not wanting to sit around at home feeling sorry for herself, Jessica applied to be a volunteer.
"I thought I would give [volunteering and partnership coordinator Melaina Tate] a call," she said.
"I like helping people as much as I can."
"It turned out to be a lot better than what I thought it would be and a lot easier."
The process to become a Cancer Council Volunteer was easy and despite some nerves, Jessica fully embraced her role as a driver.
"It was mainly a phone conversation and then I had to fill out some paperwork such a police checks and a week or two later I was in the car," Jessica said.
"I was nervous at first but I worked it up a bit.
"My first passenger was lovely, we started talking about their family and it was a short drive but I felt like I got to know them and make them feel a little better.
"One drive in particular, I had gone to Sydney and pick someone up after their treatment.
"We didn't stop talking. They were really lovely and so nice. They had all this wisdom and it made me feel bad that all these lovely people have to go through this experience."
Jessica is one of the many people in the Highlands who jumped at the chance to volunteer with the Cancer Council and help make a difference in someone's life.
Cancer Council's volunteering and partnership coordinator Melaina Tate said that many volunteer drives were rested across the state due to COVID-19.
"This resulted in 91 per cent or 247 drivers taken out of rotation across 30 services in NSW," she said.
"Without missing a beat, staff who lived in the Southern Highlands quickly trained up and jumped into our fleet vehicles to ensure that we continued to fulfill bookings for cancer patients to attend cancer treatment and oncology appointments.
"The community response to the call out for support was amazing; we had new drivers joining us for the interim period and their feedback has been inspirational.
We also worked very closely with the amazing Community Transport group. If we did not have a car and/or driver available, we worked with the Community Transport and paid their fees for the transport.
"Our over-60s drivers are coming back on the roster now, and the newer drivers and staff continue to support where needed.
"We are now working on strengthening our capacity to take us in 2021 to ensure that we can continue to provide a high level of transport services in the Southern Highlands."
There were 550 bookings more than 35,731 kilometres travelled and more than 930 volunteer hours between April until the end of September for the Southern Highlands Transport to Treatment.Cancer Council's volunteering and partnership coordinator, Melaina Tate
Community relations coordinator Brooke Manzione said it was important to acknowledge the wonderful volunteers from the Southern Highlands.
"It was unfortunate that we had to stand down 91 per cent of our volunteers due to COVID-19 and health concerns surrounding that," she said.
"We couldn't be more grateful for people like Jess who stepped up when we needed them the most.
"Our Transport to Treatment program is incredibly important to the Cancer Council, most of the patients wouldn't be able to get to their appointments without the support of our volunteer drivers.
"The patients are so grateful, we are so grateful and it's great we can offer this service."
Brooke said she also wished to acknowledge the support the Southern Highlands community has shown to the Cancer Council.
"We are really grateful that in times like these, the community still rallies together and supports each other," she said.
"That might be a person driving a patient to their appointment, that might be someone hosting a biggest morning tea fundraiser. I just want to acknowledge the incredible support of this community."
For Jessica, volunteering as a driver for Transport to Treatment has been rewarding and encourages other young drivers to sign up.
"Just do it. It's been really positive and it makes you feel like you're helping people," she said.
"The reason why people turn to the cancer council is that it doesn't cost them anything and it normally because they don't have anyone else to take them to appointments each week.
"You're helping someone who is probably going through the hardest time of their life.
"It's just volunteering your time, that's all it costs."
Jessica said that the program is flexible and allows people to volunteer when they can.
"They email out a schedule every week, sometimes every two weeks depending on how far in advance they have the appointments. Then it's whoever has the time off and can do it," she said.
"Sometimes it's a local drive such as picking someone up from Moss Vale and going to Bowral but it can also be longer drives such as going to Sydney.
"They're always looking for volunteers, especially now."
Brooke also echoed Jessica's call for more volunteers.
"We encourage anybody who thinks this could fit their schedule to please come forward. There is access to a Cancer Council car and we will provide you with training," she said.
"We can give you some great training so you can feel comfortable with the process."
The Cancer Council works across all cancers and offers support to anyone in need.
"The best process is to call 13 11 20," Brooke explains.
"Anybody who has cancer or has been affected by cancer, including family members, can call this number.
"There's a range of support that the phone line can connect them to so that includes financial support, emotional support and connect them with support services such as Transport to Treatment and accommodation."
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